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Amber Long prepares for new Wellness Center

NEW DIRECTOR READY TO HELP STUDENT WELLNESS

“This is my dream job,” is the first thing Amber Long said when asked about her role as Director of the Wellness Center—and the sincerity of those words is evident in everything she does.

She’s a natural, effervescent leader: at the Student Leadership Retreat, she introduced the team of people who are helping her ready the Center for its early Spring 2018 opening with an enthusiasm that breeds trust in anyone who hears her speak. Afterward, she lead the 80 CU Denver students present in a combination wellness exercise and yoga session, effortlessly keeping everyone engaged by demonstrating a range of poses to suit every fitness level. While wrapping up the exercise with a Wellness Center update, her excitement was palpable—she talked about walking through the half-constructed building like it’s Denver’s personal Taj Mahal (to be fair, it sounds like it’ll be pretty close).

“I’ve been looking for roles in Colorado for probably a decade, and I was waiting for the perfect job to open up,” Long said. Beyond the obvious draws of the state—like trails to guide a hiker in any direction and a mountain range to frame every landscape—she’s found a home in CU Denver’s unique student population.

“Because we’re a commuter campus, I think sometimes it’s hard to have a balanced lifestyle,” Long said. “I’m really encouraging our students to try to address their needs from a wide spectrum of wellness as opposed to only thinking about fitness, nutrition, and stress management.”

To accomplish this goal, she draws the seven dimensions of wellness, a system that concerns itself holistically with physical, mental, and spiritual systems of wellbeing. “The seven dimensions of wellness are social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, creative, intellectual, and physical,” Long said before admitting that wasn’t the traditional lineup of attributes. “CU Denver students actually created this model, and as far as I know, we’re the only place that includes creative wellness instead of vocational wellness. It’s great how strongly students on this campus want to creatively express themselves while they’re here.”

As the Wellness Center’s grand opening approaches, one of the opportunities Long is most excited about is being able to work even more directly with students: The building will be staffed by at least 70 undergraduate and graduate employees. “Jobs will be open to any student on campus—no experience necessary,” Long said. Students can train to become lifeguards, personal trainers, and fitness class teachers—and CU Denver is offering certifications for these positions for a fraction of what it would cost elsewhere.

Wellness Center administrators will host an information session about personal trainer certification courses on Aug. 23 at 5 p.m. in the Student Commons Gallery space, and trainings will occur on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the semester. Students who are eager to participate in Wellness Center activities as a guest can start this Fall: Programming includes Move-it Mondays on the sports field at 12 p.m., Fit-45 at CVA on Tuesdays at 4:45 p.m., and Wellness Wednesday Yoga at 12 p.m. in the Student Commons gallery. All events are free to attend.

Long and her wellness team will also serve as guest contributors to The Sentry during the next couple of months to expand on what it means to experience wellness across all seven dimensions—or, in other words, explain how  CU Denver’s unique student needs can be addressed with services the Wellness Center will offer. 

Taylor Kirby
Taylor Kirby

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